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The Changing Face Of Michigan Families

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - The days of families, like those depicted on TV in the 60’s are long gone. WWJ’s Rob Sanford said that’s according to new information from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau says only 37 percent of Wayne County households have families that include a husband and wife. In Detroit, 78 percent of children born are to unwed mothers. In Oakland County and Macomb County about 50 percent of households have married couples.

The Census also revealed that Michigan has 21,782 households run by same-sex couples, a 42 percent increase over the 15,368 reported in the 2000 census, which experts say reflects a nationwide trend and growing acceptance of homosexuality and nontraditional family structures.

Still, the numbers suggest that less than 1 percent of Michigan’s 3.8 million households are run by same-sex couples, which advocates and experts say reflects continuing reluctance on the part of many gay and transgender people to go public.

According to the census, in 2010 there were 12,483 Michigan households led by female couples, a 55 percent increase over 8,075 a decade earlier. The number led by male couples rose 28 percent, from 7,293 to 9,299.

Although the census refers to such households as being led by “unmarried partners,” it does not explicitly describe them as gay, lesbian or transgender. Nor does it enable single people to describe their sexual orientation. That means the census does not measure the number of homosexual people in Michigan or nationally.

The bureau said the 2000 and 2010 numbers weren’t entirely comparable because of technical differences in how they were processed. Still, demographers said there was clearly a significant increase in the number of same-sex couples reporting themselves as such.

“It definitely points out that things are changing a great deal,” said Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit, a demographic research agency. “Obviously people are feeling much more comfortable to come out and couple up and identify themselves that way on the questionnaires.”

Wayne County had the highest number of same-sex households with 3,841, up 18 percent from 3,255 a decade earlier. Oakland County’s total rose 50 percent, from 2,039 to 3,058, while Macomb County had a 62 percent jump, from 1,014 to 1,644.

Kent County went from 976 households to 1,484, up 52 percent. Saginaw County’s number was up by one-third, from 282 to 373. Grand Traverse County had a 70 percent increase, from 131 to 223. In the Upper Peninsula, Marquette County had 132 same-sex households last year, a 35 percent increase from 98 in 2000.

The number of households with three or more generations also is rising. About one in 12 Detroit homes has more than two generations living under one roof, the third-highest percentage in Michigan, after River Rouge and Royal Oak Township.

Other trends include more homes with grandparents raising young children and the dropping rate of home ownership in metro Detroit, falling from 73.8% to 72.1%.

Michigan’s median age is also getting older, going from 35 to almost 39 between 2000 and 2010.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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